Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stuart's December Report

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

On this second Sunday of Advent we anticipate the birth of our King. We await the God who reaches out to be and live among us. And we remember that we too are to be and live amongst. We anticipate on a daily basis the God that does the impossible to be with us, to love us, to mold us, and perfect us. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

 Here is an update of our lives over the last few weeks. Thank you for following along with us.
  1. 1)  We finally managed to get our baking classes up and going. We had been working with a lady in our church named Marina to get classes going through a hotel here in San Vicente. Carie mentioned last month, that those plans fell flat, sending us, along with Marina, back to the drawing board. She took the initiative upon herself to purchase a small used industrial oven, and decided to offer a course out of the garage of her house. We assisted with some of the start up materials, and now we have had 2 weeks of classes, with an average of 12-15 women and men showing up every afternoon. Carie thought she would go observe for the first class, but being the keen student that she is, she has attended nearly every one. In fact tomorrow she is going to teach a class on making banana bread and brownies. We are excited for where God will take this program, and view great potential to create some employment and hope here. Marina is a strong leader, and will be able to offer not only physical leadership but spiritual leadership as well. We feel blessed to have met her.

  2. 2)  As we enter December, we find ourselves with a bit of a break from teams. In fact we will not see another group until the 5th of January. We are looking forward to the this month, as we will have the ability to focus on a few things that were put on hold over the last couple of months. But in saying this, we have had a great time with the groups that have been down over this past month. We had a group from St. Catharines earlier in the month, under the leadership of Dennis and Valerie Nikkel. We also had men from our home church in Calgary, come for a week, under Jake Fluker’s guidance. Jake stayed on with us for a week after his team left, and we were able to experience a few new things in El Salvador, that the structure and business of a team week does not allow. I am thankful for all the good friends that we have been given. I am thankful for all the people that have moved 24 families into safe and healthy homes. I am especially thankful for Jake and depth of the connection that God has allowed us. Good friends are ‘importantisimo’.

  3. 3)  We celebrated the end of the school year this month, as well as Ellis’ graduation from kindergarten (this is a much bigger deal here than in Canada). The kids have enjoyed working with the teams or just inventing games to play with Diego andDaniela in the backyard. One day last week that decided that it would be a good idea to have a water fight with a couple of the hoses for the entire day (as Carie and I were out of the house). Water only flows into our house 2 days of the week, so when they drained our 100 gallon cistern in its entirety, we were left without water for a couple of days. Jake and I were pretty excited to come home after mixing concrete all afternoon at a house in San Antonio, to find that all we had to clean ourselves with were the couple of mouthfuls of water left in my water bottle. I love my children.
4) Finally we continue to see positive development in the lives of many of our friends here. Carlos has nearly 3 months without drinking. God has touched his heart. Hector is becoming more confident, and is beginning to see that he has value as a son of God. I am proud to work alongside of him while he is translating for the teams. Esmeralda’s husband  Miguel has been excepted into the police academy (he just needs to pass some medical tests). Carolina (a single mother from Las Brisas) has built her own tortilla stand, and is earning a bit of money each day. Previously, we tried to help her in a number of different ways, always to see these things fail. Wilfredo, a young guy that we took to rehab a couple of months ago, only to see him leave the following day, has been clean for 3 months. God is working and moving and changing hearts. Sometimes he calls us to be a part of the plan, sometimes we don’t know that we are part of the plan, and sometimes we get to simply witness his power and glory.

  1. The level of poverty and hurt in this country never seems to end. As we make small steps in some communities, we quickly realize that there are thousands of other communities in the same or worse situation. I feel that there are two dangers for us in this situation. The first is that we become too overwhelmed with the level of need, and resign to the fact that nothing can ever be changed. The second is just as dangerous in that we become to numb to the needs here, and cease to moved to action. We pray for wisdom. We pray that God changes our hearts of stone for hearts of flesh, and that we are allowed to see this world through his eyes.
1) As we see success in the sewing centre, t-shirt stamping, bakery, goat farm, etc. we know that God is moving these projects forward, but the goal we hope to achieve is to see all of these as self-sustainable ventures. We want to hand over more and more of the control to people involved in the each project, and hope that our role becomes more that of a cheerleader and spiritual, mental, emotional supporter. In saying this we realize that we are not at this point yet, and there are significant cultural hurdles that will need to be crossed. Our hope is to keep moving forward, but only as quickly as God is leading us.

2) Dennis and Valerie arrived yesterday to spend 3 weeks with us. They offered Carie and I the chance to go away for a couple of nights, and refresh as a couple. We know the importance that this plays in our lives and our marriage. We were truly thankful for this opportunity. We are happy to report that the kids didn’t drive them insane.

1) Wisdom and discernment
2) A greater definition of our direction and focus
3) Peace and patience and joy in our family
4) Continued protection and safety for our friends and family
5) A movement towards peace in El Salvador
6) That our lights shine in this community
7) God’s continued presence in the lives of the many people we come in contact with 8) Healing for Maria Elena (a lady we met a couple of weeks ago with kidney failure) 9) That we can celebrate the birth of our savior in a meaningful way

Stuart McAllister
(on behalf of the McAllister family) 

Ps. Our website for the Sewing Centre will be up and running any day now. Please keep checking to see what's new, what's for sale and information on how to order a quilt, purse, custom t-shirt etc.